Friday, January 15, 2016

In the details

Instagram has been a great place to meet some really wonderful people. One person in particular has always been so kind and said the nicest things about my posts, and I decided I wanted to make something for her. Since she's a knitter, I thought a zippered pouch would be something both nice and practical for her. So of course I made another Hazel pouch!

She mentioned she liked pink and grey, and in no time I pulled a few great prints. There's no shortage of pink and grey in my stash. It was a chance to use some new prints, including the pink and grey text and neat grey print with cursive and chemistry scribbles, and one of my favourite text prints in dark grey. The icing on the cake was the precious silver C+S print to give Hazel a twinkle in her eye and a wet nose. (Hmm. That's healthy for a dog, but maybe not for a hedgehog.)

This mosaic shows some of the details:

I tucked one of my awesome labels in the seam, along with a bit of the hot pink zipper I cut off to make a handy loop to grab on to. There's a fancy metal zipper pull, and a pretty pink and grey Lotta print for the lining. Seeing this pouch makes me smile, and I hope it brings happiness to its new owner too.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Can't resist another

I've done a couple quilt-alongs and they're so much fun. I love getting to know people by working on the same project together, and so I couldn't resist a new one being hosted by the lovely and talented Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts. She's the mastermind behind the Bee Hive Quilts, too.

This January she launched the Modern HST Sampler QAL, which will include 24 blocks that focus on HST. I've always enjoyed making and using HST, so this was a no-brainer for me to join. Find all the details about the QAL here. The blocks start out easy, then get more difficult as the year progresses. Here is the first block - Candy - with some fussycutting for the middle square.

I decided to use my precious Handcrafted Indigo bundle for this project, paired with a light quilter's linen. That is if I can get my hands on more. I jumped into this project Tuesday night after seeing all the great blocks appear on IG and picked this background fabric that added a nice depth compared to a flat solid. I only had a FQ, but knew I got it from my LQS and could pop in for yardage. Wouldn't you know they were all out? Gah! They're gonna put in an order for it, so hopefully I can stretch out this FQ for a few blocks. Then of course I couldn't leave there empty-handed, especially after seeing they had Blueberry Park. Except in the orange colour-way, which was what I had been thinking would be great as an accent to the blues. So a surprisingly frustrating and fruitless trip to a fabric shop. When does that ever happen?!

I've got a special plan for these blocks, so I'm excited to see them multiply. I can't wait for the next one!

Modern HST Sampler QAL

Friday, January 8, 2016

Good start

Here it is just the first week of January and I already have blocks made for both my queen bees for the month. Thankfully this is the only month where there is an overlap.

These Bunting blocks turned out so nice with the pink and yellow and scrappy low-volume background.

I decided for this round of the bee I would make a second block for my extra. That's simple and fun, and may even reduce my packaging and mailing costs compared to sending a fabric basket as an extra. Plus then I don't need to cut extra fabric to send, which I think was my least favourite task.

And here are all my January blocks together, with the signature blocks too.

I think for this round I'm also gonna keep it simple with the signature blocks. Maybe I'm finally getting smart now that I've had 40 years on this planet. I always come up with these arbitrary ideas, and then force myself to stick with them no matter what. I made a fabric basket and cut extra fabric for the first queen bee, so then I had to stick with that all year. Well, new year, new decade, maybe new me.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Coming around on yellow

Confession: Yellow is not a colour I'm especially fond of. I don't mind a bit of it, but certainly it is far, far, far from my favourite. But it seems I am fated to keep using it because so many people I'm sewing for in swaps and quilting bee groups really like it. So this yellow-hater is continually buying yellow fabric. I just picked up three FQs the other day! Just thinking of all the amazing pinks and teals and purples I had to leave behind makes me teary.

But I think all this forced sewing with yellow may be softening my stance. Just a teeny bit. Here are two Checker blocks I made for the final queen bee in my first group.

I also made her a basket, like I have for every queen bee this year. And I used my very own tutorial! I called it #basketinaflash and it was a thrill to see someone on IG already shared one she made.

And here is my practice Bunting Block for the first queen bee in my 2016 group. I made practice blocks all last year with one collection of fabric and plan to continue this year.

And, yes, there is yellow in this one I made myself. Every time I pull out this collection I wonder why I bought the bundle in the first place. It is totally not my usual colours, but I still quite like it. Maybe all the orange won me over.

Pillow bonanza

So I guess I wasn't done with pillows after making four for Christmas presents using an oversized Tic Tac Toe block. I had a few days off after the holidays and decided to make pillows for four wonderful women I've gotten to know through Instagram. I asked them each what colours they would like, then dove into my stash to find the perfect fabrics.

Now the fun part - quilting! I did them all in with straight-line quilting. That's my happy place. I just zone out and keep stitching, only getting up from my sewing machine to use my secret weapon for straight-line quilting - masking tape.

This was also a chance to use an awesome Christmas gift I got from a friend - labels with my name on them! How cool is that?! (You can get your own at

Here's a Tula-rrific pillow in pink and purple. I just picked up more of that pink print because it's such a fabulous, saturated colour.

This one is similar to a previous, only I used that great Carolyn Friedlander botanics print for the background. Again using more Tula fabric for the X and corners.

I love this Anna Maria Horner pillow, with a soft grey quilter's linen for the background. That floral print is one of my all-time favourites. I missed when her True Colours collection came out and have only been able to snag a few of my favourite prints, including the flowers in just the blue colourway.

And then this awesome black, red and white pillow. It's totally not a normal colour scheme for me, but I love how bold it is. And that text print is great one I only cut into for special projects.

Here are collages with the pillows and their backings. Usually I make envelope backs with the opening horizontal, but I changed it when that better suited the direction of the print.

How awesome is that red old tyme telephone print?!

Then I folded them neatly and tied them with a selvage bow.

I popped them into the mail yesterday and can't wait for them to arrive at their new homes all across the United States.

Happy Hazel

I just can't get enough of making Hazel blocks. They are a bit fussy, but it's so fun when that cute face and spikey 'do emerge. This one is for the one-year-old daughter of a friend, the most smiley, sweet little girl ever. I picked up these great Rhoda Ruth prints and the next day was cutting out a Hazel. I used the same body and face background as my last teal Hazel, then the most perfect blue-grey Kona for the background. I definitely need to get more of that colour.

Quilting again was wavy lines because apparently that's how I have to quilt Hazels. Then I made it into a pillow with awesome origami animal fabric for the backing. I wish I got more of that, especially since it was on sale. Sigh. Fabric-buyers remorse is almost always for the fabric you didn't get. I used the same fabric on another pillow:

I love, love, love this pillow. The colours are wonderful and it's so big and squishy and soft. Every time I see it in my craft room, I can't help but pick it up and give it a squeeze.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Tutorial: Basket in a Flash

There's a number of tutorials out there for fabric baskets, but I found often they had unnecessary steps or were more complicated than they needed to be. I came up with my own method for baskets, streamlining the process so you can make one in a half hour or so. Hopefully my way isn't too fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants for a tutorial! Please let me know if something isn't clear and I'll do my best to clarify.

When you're done, you have a good-sized basket that is about 6.5" long, 5" wide and 8" high before folding down the cuff.

Usually I'm working with fat quarters, so I cut two pieces - one for the lining, one for the outside - that are 12" by as long as I can make it using a FQ. Normally this is about 21". If you're cutting from yardage, you can go for an even 22". You'll also need a piece the same size of one-sided fusible fleece. I like this stuff because it's pliable, but still sturdy enough for a basket.

Generally I avoid directional prints because then you need to piece it together so things aren't upside-down, and that adds time. Who's got extra of that?!

Now here's where I start doing things differently, but trust me! Iron the fusible fleece onto the lining. Yup, I said lining. I find that way the inside is nice and neat, and the outside wraps snuggly around it.

Fold each rectangle in half and sew down the sides to the folded bottom. Use a quarter-inch seam. I like to backstitch at the start to lock in the stitches. Don't worry about the bottom because we're gonna snip that off later.

Draw a 2.5" square on all the bottom corners. Be sure to measure from inside the seam allowance on the side.

Flatten the corner to make a point. To do this, kinda pinch the corners of the square you just drew so they're on the folds of the fabric. Do not trim. I find it's easier to sew along the line if there's more to hold on to. Again I backstitch at the start and stop of the seam, and over the middle seam to make sure it's extra secure.

Now you can trim the points, leaving 1/4". Optional: put the triangles on a nearby cat or dog as a jaunty cap. I keep trying with my cats, but they don't seem to appreciate the hilarity of it.

Iron open the seams on the side.

Turn the outer piece inside out and put it inside the lining.

Grab your handy Wonder Clips or pins and clip the pieces together, making sure to match your seams.

Slide it onto your sewing machine and stitch around the top, leaving a gap of 2.5" to 3". I find it handy to use my quarter-inch foot to be accurate and fast.

Pull your basket right-side out through the gap you left. Iron the seam flat carefully. I like to put clips on the open part so I know where it is when topstitching.

Topstitch around the edge. I usually do two lines in a co-ordinating thread for a nice detail. Be careful while sewing at the turning gap to make sure it's tidy and secure. Then turn the basket right side out. I like to fold down the top because the cuff adds a nice detail and a little extra sturdiness.

And voila! Your fabric basket is done! In a flash!

Make it bigger:
It's easy to make the basket bigger. You can use about the same length of fabric and just make it wider. Be sure to make the corners a bit larger when you add width.

I hope you liked this tutorial and have fun making your own fabric baskets. They're so handy to have in the sewing room to hold fabric and projects, and they make great gifts or swap extras. If you make baskets using this tutorial, please share them on Instagram using the hashtag #basketinaflash.